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Welcome to the University History at a Glance page. This page provides a timeline of significant events that occurred at the university from it's early days to the present. Click on a hyperlink for more information on the people and places that have made UNLV what it is today.

1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s

1951 =  Extension courses are first offered in Las Vegas from the University of Nevada, Reno.  James Dickinson and two part-time instructors begin teaching education classes at a local high school.  The library has 1,800 donated books stored in a closet.  Twenty-eight students sign up for classes, and the population of Las Vegas is around 48,000.
1954 = University of Nevada regents meet for the first time in Las Vegas and tell a crowd of 300 that it is more important to build in Reno than in southern Nevada.  They change their minds a few months later under southern pressure and a donation by Estelle Wilbourn of land for a campus.  Enrollment grows to 310. 
1955 =  The Nevada Legislature approves $200,000 for a building for the Southern Regional Division of the University of Nevada.  The Nevada Southern Fund is established and a door-to-door campaign led by Dr. R. Guild Gray raises $35,000 to buy additional land.
1956-1958 = Maude Frazier, retired school teacher, principal and Clark County legislator who helped get legislative support for the southern campus, turns the first shovel of dirt to start construction on the first campus building, Maude Frazier HallMaude Frazier Hall is constructed on Maryland Parkway.  In 1957, William D. Carlson, dean of men and student affairs in Reno, becomes director of the southern campus.  The southern campus is named Southern Regional Division of the University of Nevada in 1957.  Archie C. Grant Hall opens.  Enrollment is up to 805.  The UNLV Basketball program begins under Coach Michael Drakulich.
1960-1961 = The Gymnasium (now Marjorie Barrick Museum of Natural History), the Geoscience Building (Lilly Fong), and the Technology Building are completed.  The first floor of the James R. Dickinson Library is finished.  There are two more floors added in 1963.  The population of Las Vegas is 127,000.
1964-1966 = The Social Sciences Building (now John S. Wright Hall) is completed.  The campus confers its first degrees in 1964.  Donald C. Moyer is appointed chancellor in 1964.  In 1965, the regents re-name the school Nevada Southern University. Moyer begins plans for an intercollegiate football team.  Jerry Crawford (Professor of Theatre, Emeritus) is appointed the first dean of faculty.  UNLV Alumni Association is created.  Tonopah Residence Hall and the Dining Commons are completed.  The Division of Continuing Education is created to meet the demand for classes off campus.
1967-1968 = Students hang Governor Paul Laxalt in effigy when he announces a budget that does not accommodate Southern Nevada’s growth.  He backs off and funding is eventually attained to meet the growth of the school.  UNLV faculty no longer attends Senate meetings in Reno.  Students vote to charge themselves $27 per semester to build a Student Union.  The Division of Science and Mathematics, formed in 1964, becomes a college.  Rebel Football starts under Coach Bill Ireland.
1969-1971 = As part of a re-organization of the Nevada University System in 1969, NSU is renamed the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and Roman J. Zorn, becomes President the same year.  The College of Hotel Administration is established.  The Business Services Building is completed. 
1970-1971 = The Chemistry Building is completed.  The College of Business and Economics is established in 1971. The College of Arts and Letters is formed, from the colleges of Social Sciences, Fine Arts and Humanities.  The College of General and Technical Studies, established in 1967, is re-organized and becomes the College of Allied Health Professions.  The Silver Bowl (currently Sam Boyd Stadium) opens for UNLV Rebel Football.
1972-1977 = Dr. Donald Baepler becomes president in 1973. The Graduate College is created.  The Judy Bayley Theatre, Flora Dungan Humanities Building, William D. Carlson Education Building, and the Paul C. McDermott Physical Education Center are completed.  The Life Sciences Building which is named for former Board of Regent Juanita Greer White is completed in 1976.
1979 =   Dr. Leonard E. Goodall becomes president of UNLV in 1979.  UNLV enrollment reaches 9,447.  Faculty reaches 315.  Professional Staff reaches 84.  Classified Staff reaches 315.
1981 = James R. Dickinson Library addition is completed.  Claes Oldenburg’s sculpture "The Flashlight" is erected on campus.  The School of Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance is established within the College of Education.  The Environmental Research Center is organized within the Museum of Natural History.  The UNLV Foundation is established.
1982-83 =

Alta Ham Fine Arts and Frank and Estella Beam Hall are completed. The Thomas & Mack Center is completed in 1983 and opens with a fund-raiser featuring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Diana Ross.  Thomas & Mack is approximately 251,450 square feet. Enrollment reaches 11,452. 

1984 = Dr. Robert Maxson becomes president.  The Howard R. Hughes School of Engineering is formed within the College of Science, Mathematics and Engineering.  The University Forum Series begins. 
1985-1988 = The Honors Program begins.  UNLV takes over the responsibility for the Silver Bowl.  It is now called Sam Boyd Stadium.  The academic program established at Nellis Air Force Base produces its first graduate.  The Engineering School becomes the College of Engineering. Student Health Center, Public Safety, and Beam Engineering Buildings open.  Enrollment reaches past 14,000.  There are more than 1,200 degrees conferred on UNLV’s graduates.
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1989-1990 =   UNLV is named one of U.S. News and World Report’s “up-and-coming” universities. The UNLV Men’s Basketball Team wins the 1990 NCAA National Basketball Championship under Coach Jerry Tarkanian.  They defeat Duke 103-73.  The College of Fine Arts is established. The College of Hotel Administration is named for Nevada Gaming leader William F. Harrah. Residence halls and the Richard Tam Alumni Building are completed.
1991-1993 = The Environmental Research Center of the Natural History Museum expands and becomes the Harry Reid Center for Environmental Research. The Natural History Museum named for Marjorie Barrick becomes a unit of the Harry Reid Center. The Rod Lee Bigelow Health Sciences Building is completed.  The Frank and Vicki Fertitta Tennis Complex is completed. . Enrollment reaches 19,000.  UNLV’s first Ph.D. (in English) is awarded.   Warren Schutte is the NCAA Individual Golf Champion.
1994 = Kenny Guinn becomes interim president of UNLV.  He would eventually be elected governor of Nevada in 1998.  The population of Las Vegas reaches one million.
1995 = Dr. Carol C. Harter becomes UNLV’s first female president.  The Classroom Building Complex, Donald W. Reynolds Student Services Complex, the Robert L. Bigelow Physics Building, the Alumni Amphitheater and the Earl E. Wilson Baseball Stadium are constructed. 
1996 = Campus-wide strategic planning meetings develop a new mission statement and the publication entitled, “University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Premier Urban University: A Public Agenda for the Decade 1996-2005.”  It becomes the guiding document for the university’s development.   
1997-1998 = The William S. Boyd School of Law opens to its first class in temporary quarters in an old elementary school.  The Paul B. Sogg Architecture Building is completed and the school of Architecture is accredited.  Enrollment has reached over 21,000.  There are more than 3,000 degrees conferred upon UNLV students.
1999 = UNLV offers its first courses in Henderson, Nevada.  UNLV Athletics joins the Mountain West Conference.  The Nevada Legislature and the Board of Regents authorize a school of Dentistry at UNLV.
2000 = The new five story, 300,000 square foot Lied Library is completed.  The old Dickinson Library is renovated to house the Law School. The Stan Fulton Building, housing the International Gaming Institute is completed. The University has its 10-year accreditation visit.  The revisions to the General Education requirement at UNLV go into effect.
2001 = Lied Library opens.  The Cox Pavilion, Beam Music Building, William Bennet Professional Development Building and the UNLV Foundation Building are all completed. The International Institute for Modern Letters is founded. The IIML was founded by gaming executive, philanthropist and graduate of the Iowa's Writer's Workshop, Glenn Schaeffer. The Institute's first director of literary arts was Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka. The Institute is now part of UNLV's Black Mountain Institute.
2002 = The School of Dental Medicine opens. Eller Media Stadium at Jim Rogers Field opens.
2003 = William S. Boyd School of Law receives full accreditation. Michael Hamrick becomes UNLV's Athletic Director.
2004 = UNLV's Shadow Lane Campus opens. It is a regional campus that is home to the School of Dental Medicine. It is also the location for UNLV's work in biomedical sciences and biotechnology development.
2005 = William S. Boyd of Boyd Gaming Corporation pledges $25 million to UNLV's Law School.
2006 = David Ashley becomes president. UNLV President Emeritus Carol Harter becomes Executive Director of the Black Mountain Institute. Phase I is completed for the new Student Union
2007 = The Men’s Basketball team led by Coach Lon Kruger wins the Mountain West Tournament , defeating BYU 78-70. The team goes onto the NCAA's Sweet Sixteen.
2008 = The School of Dental Medicine's new Dental Education Building opens at the Shadow Lane campus.
2009 = Neil J. Smatresk is named President of UNLV.


Updated: Wednesday, 06-Mar-2013 15:09:00 PST
Content Provider: Tom Sommer
Page Editor: Tom Sommer